My Morning Jacket's Patrick Hallahan on the New Album and His New Love: La Caja China

My Morning Jacket
My Morning Jacket
Photo by Danny Clinch

The guys of My Morning Jacket are legendary live performers. Given that they've been going strong since '98 and released seven albums, you'd expect them to put on a stellar show. Still, no matter a group's longevity, stage presence and charisma are rare in music. They're inherent skills, ones not easily taught. On top of that, My Morning Jacket's ability to play instruments with balanced levels of aggression and delicacy makes for a can't-miss concert.

My Morning Jacket is bringing its epic rock 'n' roll carnival to the Fillmore Miami Beach, and New Times spoke with drummer Patrick Hallahan just prior to the band setting off on the second leg of its 2015 tour. Traveling in support of its critically acclaimed seventh studio album, The Waterfall, My Morning Jacket will tour through the remainder of the year. In our conversation, Hallahan revealed his thoughts on the band's most recent album, his newfound love for a Miami culinary classic, and what he thinks a great band should be.

My Morning Jacket

With Mini Mansions. 8:30 p.m. Monday, August 3, at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-7300; fillmoremb.com. Tickets cost $55 to $75 plus fees via livenation.com.

New Times: What do you do to get yourself pumped for each tour, especially one this massive at four months?
Patrick Hallahan: To be honest with you, man, I just kind of stay pumped. I think I can speak for all us: We feel really fortunate that we get to do this for a living. And we do it for a living because we love it. We got started as a band because... it wasn't like a business plan — we just kind of had to do it. It makes us happy.

Do you ever see yourselves doing another four-hour show similar to Bonnaroo in 2008?
Well, yeah. I could do that. On a good night, when everybody's firing, yeah, I'll play until my arms fall off. We've done two four-hour shows. One because we had a blast [Bonnaroo] and one at Red Rocks. We kept playing because we wanted to. It's out of love. So sure, why not?

Is there anything sentimental or superstitious that you bring on the road with you?
I'm not a very superstitious person, but sentimental, yeah. I have a daughter. She's about ready to turn 4. And whenever she makes a little drawing or something like that, I take it with me. I miss my daughter and my wife a lot when I'm on the road. I bring little things that remind me of them just to keep that connection real. Other than that, it's just packing lightly for like a really long camping trip.

How often has My Morning Jacket been to Miami?
You know, we haven't been to Miami too many times. The last time we played it was at the Jackie Gleason Theatre at the Fillmore. Other than that, we haven't spent too much time in Miami, and I don't know why. I mean, we had a great day that day. 

What did you think of Miami?
I love Miami. Actually, I just bought a La Caja China. Do you know what those are?

Oh, yes. Those are for roasting pigs.
Yeah, I just bought one of those not too long ago, and they're based out of Miami. I talked to the owner, and he was telling me to come down and try a bunch of different places, so I'm going to be eating quite a bit when I'm there.

That's a good idea. Have you tried the caja china yet?
Dude, yeah. Three pigs already.

How was it?
I mean, come on. Do I need to go further? It was amazing [laughs].

So the new record, The Waterfall, is getting great reviews. After you listened to the finished product, what were your thoughts? And how is it different from other My Morning Jacket albums?
Man, I could go one step further and say that when we were making this album, I just knew that I was in the middle of something I was really proud of. We were coming from a really honest place. Everybody's playing was on point. Honestly, I came home from making this album — we had been gone for two months, and my wife was like, "Is it worth it? Because you've been gone forever." I told her I didn't care if anyone bought the album or not, but chuck it in my casket when I go because I was really proud of how this one turned out.

Any favorite tracks?
Man, people ask me that, and it's so hard. It's like asking who's your favorite kid. You secretly have one, but you don't want to say it because it's just not right. I love them all. 

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Do you have a favorite album, or is it the same sentiment as the individual tracks?
I don't really have a favorite, but I do have different emotions for each one because they came at different points and they conjure up different memories. But this current one is maybe my favorite that we've made in terms of how it all went down. I had such a good time making it and went to such great spaces in our heads. I love it to death. With Circuital, we took over a church gymnasium and turned it into a studio. Before that was Evil Urges, and we went to Manhattan for a month. Before that, we went to Catskill Mountains. They're all their own journey. So I don't really have a favorite, but they all hold a special place in my heart in different areas.

Well, while you were making this album, Tom Blankeship commented in an interview that you guys liked to play Nintendo's Ice Hockey 1988 to unwind. Are there any other old-school games the band likes to play?
I don't play too many videogames anymore, but we carry an NES with us still. It's the great equalizer. Anytime we have issues on the road, instead of fights, it goes on the screen and we duke it out.

Who's the best NES player?
Man, I don't even want to admit who's the best, because it's not me. I don't want to give him a big head. I can't give him that credit [laughs]. Actually, I'm just kidding. Jim [James] is the best Ice Hockey player. He's freakish. Nobody can beat him. I think he spent too much time doing that as a kid.

Well, if Jim always wins, then he always gets his way?
No, put it on the basketball court and I'll smoke him. 

You've been with My Morning Jacket since 2002. Have things ever gotten tough enough that you thought it might be the end of the band?
Yeah. I mean, a band is like a marriage. If you talk to any married person who's been married a long time — and you're like, "How has it been over the course of your marriage?" — they're going to say it's been hard. The good times are good, the bad times are bad, and there's a lot of in-between. That's the same application to a band. There have been moments when we questioned going forward, and there are moments, like now, when we're supergrounded and communicating really well. When you've been doing this so long, you just get the myriad of emotions that go with it.

Are there any bands that you admire their career paths? In essence, what would you like My Morning Jacket's legacy to be when it's all said and done?
I can't speak for the rest of the guys, but when I look at a band like Pearl Jam, who have stood up for what they believe in, done things on their own terms, and given back to humanity throughout the whole thing, that to me is the blueprint for what a good band should be. We didn't model ourselves after them, but when we went on tour with them, we found a kindred spirit. When we were able to, we started giving back as well. For the last five years, we've given a dollar from every ticket sale to a charity in the town that we're in. It's more than the music, more than the people in the band, because the fans become a major part of it as well. If we're known for anything, I want to be known as devoted — devoted to our muse, devoted to our fans, and devoted to our surroundings in general. We want to give back as much as we take from everything.

My Morning Jacket with Mini Mansions. Monday, August 3, at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-7300; fillmoremb.com. Tickets cost $55 to $75 plus fees via livenation.com

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The Fillmore Miami Beach

1700 Washington Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

305-673-7300

www.fillmoremb.com


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